A little gift can go a long way to changing someone’s life, as has been demonstrated time and again by Mama Asnath Teffo, the founder of Dimphonyana Tsa Lapeng in the township of Olievenhoutbosch.
Meaning “little gifts of home” in Setswana, Dimphonyana Tsa Lapeng has helped hundreds of children and their families in the township, just outside of Midrand in Gauteng, by giving them the care and support they needed after the loss of their parents, or because of poverty.
Fourteen years ago Asnath, or Mama-Assie as she is affectionately known by the community, moved from nearby Noordwyk to Olievenhoutbosch with her family, bringing her passion for improving the lives of others closely in tow.
When she arrived in Olievenhoutbosch the area was dominated by shacks and other informal housing, before the RDP houses that dominate the landscape today were built. Here she became aware of the need to intervene and help those around her who were struggling because of the circumstances they found themselves in.
Knowing she couldn’t battle all of life’s misfortunes she prioritised the care of destitute women and children, taking orphaned or abandoned youngsters into her home to raise among her own children.
Mama-Assie has invested countless hours of her time and a huge amount of her resources in the improvement of the lives of those around her. She has put a particular focus on the young people having to grow up facing challenging situations such as child-headed homes.
THE RECYCLING SWOP SHOP
As part of Diphonyana’s attempts to provide for the basic needs of the Olievenhoutbosch community, they are currently setting up a recycle swop shop which, as the name suggests, will combine recycling with helping people get their day-to-day necessities.
The project is planned as a three-pronged tool to fight poverty and help the community. It will help clear litter and waste from the environment while providing people with their daily needs, all the time fostering self-help, independence and dignity.
The idea is for people to collect recyclable waste such as tins, bottles and plastic products, and bring it to the swop shop. In exchange they will be given a ticket valued according to the amount of sorted materials they have collected.
The tickets would then be redeemed at the organisation’s shop for essential products such as toiletries, food and clothing, depending on what has been donated to Dimphonyana by members of the public sympathetic to the cause.
An example of the valuation system is as follows: 5 points for a loaf of bread, or 35 points for a standard food parcel containing mealie meal, bread, tea bags, cooking oil, soya mince and other basic cooking necessities.
If all goes to plan, this innovative approach to tackling poverty while cleaning up the township will kick off on 1 June this year.
Another smart environment-friendly idea is the Dimphonyana Tsa Lapeng Greenery Project, which hopes to turn the many informal dump sites in the township into mini eco-parks.
The greening project is planned to work alongside the recycling swop shop. Volunteers and members of the community will clean up the dump sites and then plant them with indigenous trees and other greenery, to create the mini parks. The swop shop would be an incentive, encouraging people to remove recyclable material from the dump sites and take it to the swop shop.
The project will begin with a pilot phase involving two identified sites: one near the centre of Olievenhoutbosch and the other at Kings Hope.
Once the recycling project is under way, a longer-term goal is to sell the collected waste to recycling companies, and use the income to pay the people working on Dimphonyana Tsa Lapeng projects.
Dimphonyana hopes to partner with other organisations and corporations to get these projects off the ground.
Organisations can help in a number of ways, such as adopting one of the dump sites to be made transformed into mini eco-parks, donating food products, toiletries and clothing for the swop shop or, as running the projects is likely to be labour-intensive, by offering their time as volunteers.
The project is also open to receiving help from individuals in their own capacity who would like to donate their time and money or clothing and products.
People are welcomed to visit the centre and see for themselves how Mama-Assie and her colleagues are making a difference on a daily basis.
For more information on Dimphonyana Tsa Lapeng or if you’re looking to offer your help in the running of the organisation in whatever way you can, contact Shalate Teffo on 071 027 3060 or Asnath Teffo (Mama-Assie) on 082 503 3648.
You can also visit their Facebook page at Dimphonyana Tsa Lapeng (Little Gifts of Home), their Twitter feed @dimphonyana_sa or their Instagram page via @dimphonyana_sa.